Posts Tagged ‘GPS monitoring’

Additional research on reducing recidivism released

Monday, February 1st, 2016

In the December 2015 issue of Federal Probation, there was an article presenting the recidivism research the Administrative Office of the U.S. Court recently completed. This study is one of the few I’ve come across with current data and further confirmation that supervised released reduces recidivism. The report is well worth the time to read it.

But as I continue working in the electronic monitoring/GPS industry, I wonder is there more that can be done to further reduce recidivism? Everyone and anyone can play the “what if” and “what about” games:

  • What if the caseloads were smaller for supervising agents?
  • What if the agents increased their interaction with the offender?
  • What if a treatment plan was required for every offender?
  • What if technology was used to further supervise the offender?
  • What about increased involvement with the family or support structure by the agency?
  • Etc.

I always present our devices and services as a component of a good supervision model. But technology isn’t right for everyone. For some it’s overbearing and may create additional obstacles for the offender. For others, it’s the right balance of additional supervision and accountability, while allowing the offender the ability to reconnect to the community. The challenge for agencies is making sure they have access to the tools, experts, studies to further reduce recidivism. Giving people the chance to be successful helps everyone in the community.

It’s a great time to be a supporter of community supervision and interaction. The days of locking people up because we can, not because we should, appear to be fading into the past.

Courtroom Testimony – Let STOP help

Monday, January 4th, 2016

Ashley Fuller, our Director of Judicial Affairs and Crime Scene Analysis, is the guest author of this post. She has impeccable credentials and many hours of experience working with court officials. I appreciate her willingness to share her expertise on courtroom testimony.

How many of us have terrible flashbacks to our school days every time we think about taking an exam? Our faces become flushed with anxiety and our brain goes on overdrive hoping we’re prepared? When we transport our younger selves to adulthood and face promotion exams or hiring board interviews, those same nerves and fears can surface. Intimidation can step in and those answers, which we just knew were perfect, fade away into the land of “the forgotten.”

Have you ever thought about the court room experience in a similar fashion? You walk into a crowded courtroom and face 12 members of a jury and a judge, a prosecutor, a defense attorney, the defendant (who might have been on your case load) and, potentially, your supervisor. Your swearing-in shines the spotlight on you and your promise to tell the truth (“I hope I remember!” ), and then you sit in the uncomfortable witness stand. You do not trust who’s asking the questions and, most of all, you don’t feel the need to justify the good job you know you did while monitoring the defendant.

I can definitely relate to courtroom nerves. My career has allowed me to spend many hours in court. I was a police officer for more than eight years, and I’ve spent nearly five years traveling across the Nation testifying as STOP’s expert witness for our partner agencies. I may not know the answers as to why a defendant is found guilty or not guilty, but I have developed a way to answer some of the detailed questions about GPS in a way that most judges and juries can understand. I have learned when you understand, not just STOP’s technology but how to explain it to others, your courtroom experience doesn’t have to be nightmare-ish.

We don ‘t want to keep these answers to ourselves. We want to help arm you and your colleagues with the needed tools for success the next time you’re faced with difficult courtroom questions. We have developed courtroom testimony training for agencies that can be a live webinar or in-person at your agency. All of us feel a sense of calm when we are prepared, even if we’re facing the expected.

So, chat with your account manager if the online or onsite training would be helpful for your agency. All of us have enough stressful situations in our lives-let STOP help reduce some of your stress.

Is your EM vendor ready for the future?

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

There are many components of an EM system your vendor can control, such as hardware functionality and reliability, but there are also some VERY important components completely out of your vendor’s control. And these aspects are vital to the operation of your monitoring devices: the cellular network and the GPS satellite array.

STOP’s Engineering Team spent the past year working to enhance the functionality of our primary GPS monitoring device and our enhanced RF monitoring device to make sure we were ready for the upcoming cellular network changes our equipment uses to report into our software.

You may not be aware that cellular carriers are in the process of shutting down their 2G networks, which is necessitated by the data demands of consumers. Because of the timely action taken internally, our equipment now communicates on 3G networks using a choice of GSM and CDMA cellular carriers. As we continue transitioning to the AT&T and Verizon networks, our partner agencies do not need to be concerned about the impending 2G cellular network shutdown. However, many EM equipment vendors have not made the transition and there is a real risk to agencies and their EM programs using those systems.

The GPS game has also changed. The U.S. is one of numerous other countries operating a GPS satellite array. Russia, China and European nations have developed or are developing their own GPS satellite arrays. And the U.S. is deploying the next generation of GPS satellites. Our equipment is ready to use all of these systems to enhance location acquisition and improve GPS accuracy.

BLUtag now has shock sensors, anti-jamming and jamming detection, Wi-Fi sniffing, shielding detection, and I can go on. What does your vendor’s EM system offer?

Check the accuracy of information, please

Friday, May 9th, 2014

Electronic monitoring has been in the news recently and some of the reporting was unflattering to the industry, but it was also inaccurate. It"s easier for reporters to simply get a quote about EM and draw incorrect conclusions about the technology because he didn t investigate further into what his source said. Because the reporter doesn’t take the time to conduct a good investigation on not just the incident itself, but the technology and its functionality and the agency and its protocols, checks and balances, etc., inaccurate information is passed along to the public that damages the reputation of the industry and the agencies using EM.

EM technology is a tool that can help supervising/correctional agencies better supervise their offenders in the community. Plain and simple it is just one more tool for agencies to use in addition to their other tools of the trade, such as assessments, random checks, drug/alcohol tests, family/work checks, etc. The basic questions to ask, since almost all offenders are released from prison at some point in their life, are:

  • Is it be better to know where the offenders are and where they go after they are released from prison?
  • Is it better to give offenders additional supervision until they reestablish themselves in the community?
  • And, is it better to give an offender an excuse for not hanging out with a certain individuals and/or group(s) of people?

If you answer “yes, it is better” to these questions, then those are reasons why supervising/correctional agencies should add EM technology into their supervision tools of the trade. We already know there isn’t a way to change one"s behavior without requiring the individual"s active participation. If there was, recidivism would’ve stopped long ago and a whole bunch of other things would have to be considered. And if there were a way to change one’s behavior without his active participation, I d immediately volunteer my services to be the one deciding whose behavior is to change. Just ask my friends and colleagues because I already try to do that and most of the time with limited success. Offering additional supervision and confirmation of pro-social behavior would support a positive reintegration into society. But people will still do dumb stuff. They will still get in trouble and owe society a debt for their crimes. However, when electronic monitoring programs are well-run operations, crimes that may be committed while in the program are solved quickly and action is swift. All of which help support changes in the offender"s behavior for the better.

The vast majority of offenders who were in an electronic monitoring program successfully complete their term of supervision. They committed no new crimes and followed the instructions of their supervising agent. How many of these people would have committed a crime were it not for an electronic monitoring device? That number is impossible to know, but I don t want to find out.

Fed. Probation Reform Act: Supports GPS Monitoring Programs

Friday, December 13th, 2013

U.S. Rep. Dan Maffei from New York State is proposing legislation to hold federal probationers accountable for tampering with electronic monitoring devices. Maffei introduced the Federal Probation System Reform Act hoping to prevent another incident like the one involving David Renz in Syracuse from happening again.

In March 2013, Renz removed an electronic monitoring device from his leg, raped a 10-year old girl and killed her mother. Maffei believes if his proposed legislation had been in place in March, it may have prevented the tragedy.

This critical legislation provides a heightened level of accountability for parolees, probationers and pretrial defendants who attempt to circumvent their supervision guidelines. Even a well-run program can be rendered powerless when supervision violations result in minimal negative consequences. Maffei"s proposed reform calls for stronger discipline to deter supervision violations.

According to Maffei"s proposed legislation, a probationer who tampers with an electronic monitoring device can receive up to one year in prison. A probationer who commits an additional crime after tampering with his/her device can receive a sentence of up to four years of incarceration on top of the punishment for the additional crime.

Provisions of the Federal Probation System Reform Act also strengthen the support given to the nation"s parole system. Maffei"s legislation calls for the appointment of an Inspector General to oversee all Federal Parole, Probation and Pretrial Services offices. Further, the bill establishes a nationwide policy for responding to alerts caused by tampering with electronic monitoring devices.

This bill would give much needed assistance to federal community supervision programs. It is an uphill battle to maintain control over probationers, parolees pretrial defendants when there are no substantial consequences for their failure to cooperate. The Federal System Reform Act is a positive step towards providing those consequences.

2013 Training Institute: Intensive training for agents

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

I ve written before about the importance of training for an agency"s employees who will implement and operate a GPS monitoring program. A GPS device, no matter its capabilities, is a tool and agents must know how to use it properly to achieve an agency"s goals.

At STOP, one of our priorities is providing our customers with a range of resources so agents gain a comprehensive knowledge about how our hardware and software function individually and collectively. One resource is our annual Training Institute, which took place in Atlanta earlier this month.

More than 70 agencies and independent service providers were represented with the 137 agents. The attendees received 10 hours of training on our enrollee monitoring system. Our customers chose to attend three of the four breakout sessions.

  • VeriTracks: The Next Generation — Customers learned about the next generation of VeriTracks and its functionality.

    Attendees gather around our BLU+ blow-up at the end of the breakout session on our newest enrollee monitoring device.

  • BLU+: The RF Alternative — This year we introduced BLU+ (blu-plus), which is a new RF monitoring device with location capability, which allows supervising agents to confirm enrollees entered a designed location on time without the use of a mobile monitoring unit.
  • Witness Testimony Preparation — Supervising agents frequently provide courtroom testimony for enrollee violations. This session highlighted the information needed to articulate the basics of GPS technology in a courtroom setting. The agenda included reviewing commonly asked cross examination questions.
  • Talking With Elected Officials So They Listen — Elected official are frequently part of an agency"s stakeholder audience. This session provided tools to help agency directors and leaders have productive discussions with elected officials, as well as possible sources for alternative funding.

Franklin County, Ohio, award

We also recognized a few customers as having an outstanding GPS enrollee monitoring program. The awardees for 2013 are Charlevoix County Probation and Family Court (Michigan), Superior Court Social Services Division (District of Columbia), Dekalb County Sheriff’s Department (Illinois), Franklin County Municipal Court (Ohio), Tehama County Probation Department (California) and Tehama County Sheriff’s Department (California). We congratulate these and all of our customers on their enrollee monitoring programs that help maintain high levels of enrollee accountability and community safety.

Our customers returned home with new skills and information that will help them use our enrollee monitoring system more effectively so they can help keep their communities safe. For more information about the 2014 Training Institute, contact STOP at info@stopllc.com.

CA prison situation: more post-release services and supervision needed

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

A recent op-ed piece by Lois Davis in the Los Angeles Times addresses the need for the state of California to increase its focus on education and job training for inmates. I agree with Davis" assessment that the best way for the state to reduce its prison population is to dedicate more resources to the preparation of inmates before they return to the community.

In addition to Ms. Davis" recommendations, more services for parolees after they are released, including a GPS monitoring program, are advisable. Take a few minutes to read Ms. Davis" perspective on this important issue.

CA Senate passes bill to increase penalty for tampering with GPS devices

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Recently the California Senate passed a bill to increase the penalty for sex offenders removing or disabling the GPS tracking device they are required to wear as part of their parole. The bill, introduced by Sen. Ted Lieu, has moved on to the State Assembly for its approval.

SB 57 establishes a tiered punishment system for parolees who tamper with their GPS device. A first offense under the proposed legislation results in 180 days in county jail, while a third offense may result in as much as three years in state prison.

On Lieu’s web site, he cites the benefits of keeping sexual offenders on GPS monitoring. Most notably, he references a federal study that found monitoring reduces recidivism amongst sexual offenders by three times.

In light of the benefits, it"s prudent for the state of California to take steps to improve the effectiveness of its GPS monitoring program. California"s actions have the potential to maintain public safety and help the state continue minimizing the size of its prison population.

As a provider of GPS tracking devices, Satellite Tracking of People strives to make its equipment as difficult as possible to remove. However, the help enrollees remain safe in the event of an emergency situation, the device must be easily removed. Not allowing for this is irresponsible and potentially hazardous to the enrollee and others. But if the enrollee tampers with the device, STOP"s equipment immediately alerts authorities so appropriate steps can be taken to address the issue. This legislation further strengthens a successful program and will make enrollees think twice about unlawfully removing their tracking device.

Justice Reinvestment improve recidivism and reduce corrections costs

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

The ever-increasing prison costs and decreasing revenues have been forcing many states to consider more effective ways to manage corrections for several years. It"s a challenging task to balance budget concerns with public safety priorities. However, a recent report from the Justice Center highlights the effective attempts at Justice Reinvestment undertaken by several states.

The examples of justice reinvestment included in the report encompass numerous aspects of the states justice systems. While these examples don t necessarily include GPS monitoring, it"s encouraging to see states make the corrections process more efficient.

The study highlights six factors of an effective judicial reinvestment initiative.

  1. Comprehensive Data Analysis: In one cited example, Kansas examined more than 1 million pieces of data in its attempt to improve its system.
  2. Get Many Constituencies Involved: Kentucky included numerous county officials in its decision making process because state-level decisions would greatly affect county level workers.
  3. Focus on Those Most Likely to Re-offend: With limited resources, states like Ohio and North Carolina chose to focus on those individuals who were the highest risk to re-offend and return to prison.
  4. Reinvest in High Performing Programs: Relying on improved research techniques, states have been able to focus time and funds on programs found to be the most effective.
  5. Strengthen Community Supervision: Often justice reinvestment leads to more individuals on parole and probation, which means the ability to effectively supervise individuals in the community needs to increase proportionately as well.
  6. Incentivize Performance: Some states are taking the approach to reward local entities who reduced prison costs and populations with the dollar savings the local entities achieved.

As justice reinvestment continues across the country, I"m confident the GPS monitoring services offered by STOP will merit consideration as part of the overall solutions states take to improve their corrections systems.

Michigan House approve GPS for pretrial defendants

Thursday, May 16th, 2013

Michigan"s House of Representatives recently passed HB 4197 making it possible for the state to use GPS monitoring technology on a new group of defendants. The legislation passed in Lansing would allow judges to consider electronic monitoring for all individuals awaiting trial for an assault charge. Currently, the only option in such cases is keeping defendants in jail until their trial date. The state currently allows electronic monitoring for those awaiting trial for domestic violence charges.

This piece of legislation is ready for a third reading by the Senate and must be signed by the Governor before it can go into effect. In addition, Michigan"s leaders need to develop precise guidelines to determine who is eligible for GPS monitoring instead of incarceration. If the bill can overcome these obstacles, it will provide a useful tool that will benefit the state"s justice system.

If made available, GPS monitoring would make it possible for an individual awaiting trial to continue his/her life while waiting for his/her case to go to trial. In some cases, this technology makes the difference between a defendant continue working and providing for the family and losing his/her job because he/she is held in jail. The real-time supervision made possible by GPS monitoring helps maintain a high level of community safety while keeping the defendant accountable for his/her movements.

There are many aspects to successfully maintaining community safety. Providing security while preserving the rights of all individuals is a challenging task. It is a task that requires agencies to use every possible tool. GPS monitoring technology is an effective tool that can assist agencies with meeting many of their responsibilities, which includes public safety and offender accountability.